Beavercreek was once home to four covered bridges, all of which are now gone. But nearby is a beautifully restored example of what was!
On December 3, 2015, Greene county held a dedication for the newly remodeled Stevenson Road Covered Bridge in Xenia Township (map). County Engineer Bob Geyer led the festivities and introductions:
The project wasn't without some early controversy, but what was curiously omitted from the news article and rhetoric was the fact that the grant funds awarded and utilized were specifically for the restoration on Ohio's recoverable covered bridges, not general road or bridge resurfacing and repair. If Greene county hadn't been awarded the grant, another county would've received it for a bridge in their area.
So why are we discussing a Xenia Twp. bridge on BeavercreeksFinest.com? Simple - it's our history as well, like the Indian Ripple Road Bridge that crossed the Little Miami.. Beavercreek had four covered bridges, three of which were in the Alpha area and one in Trebein, and highlighted on our Beavercreek Heritage Trail historical project. As noted by Mr. Barker at the dedication, these bridges were state-of-the-art engineering during the time. Spanning a 136 foot span across a waterway without the use cranes... and designing it to support thousands of pounds at the centermost portion of an unsupported span is quite a feat of engineering!
Covered bridges were not only integral to the transportation of the day (the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge maintained vehicle traffic until 2003), but also supportive of the communities they served with locals gathering in the bridge during storms, as well as other uses. The bridges were a favorite of youth, who'd jump into swimming holes from either the roof or strategically kicked openings in the clapboard siding of the bridges.
NIneteenth century covered bridges are beautiful representation of Americana at its finest. A resurgent interest came about following the popularity of the Robert James Waller novel, The Bridges of Madison County. We're fortunate to have many surviving in Ohio, with some of the best examples in Greene County. The next to be restored is the Ballard Road Bridge between Xenia and Jamestown.
The Smith Bridge Company, builder of the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge, was extremely innovative for their time. They would perform a site evaluation, then measure, cut and build the bridge at their facility in Tipp City. Once perfected, the bridge would be cataloged and dismantled for transporting and reconstructing onsite - at a cost of $990 for this particular bridge. Evidence still remains on this bridge as you can easily spot the cataloging numbers in black paint on the bridges chords... numbers alone on the upstream side, numbers followed by a dash on the downstream side.
The provided program stated:
The bridge is a Smith Truss manufactured by the Smith Bridge Company. The company was originally located in Tippecanoe, Ohio - now Tipp City, before moving to Toledo in the 1880's to be closer to rail and water transportation. The innovator of the structure was Robert Smith, a master carpenter, who help patents on various parts of the structure. He was also believed to have been the first person in the country to prefabricate covered bridges. The Stevenson Road Covered Bridge is 96 feet in span over Massie's Creek and is the second Smith Truss restored by Greene County in the last couple of years. There are very few Smith Trusses left in the country and Greene County is blessed with two; the other being a 136 foot span on Engle Mill Road, which was completed in 2013. Engle Mill Road is one of the longest Smith Trusses remaining in the entire country. The Stevenson Road Covered Bridge is lit at night and has electronic (and neighborly!) surveillance. It is hoped that the people of Greene County will treasure these structures as they represent a rich transportation history that is local from fabrication to construction.
The restorers were careful to maintain as much of the original structure as possible, while augmenting it with components to ensure it's survival for decades to come. Hidden amongst the original carvings of young love, 'John was here' and a bevy of initials are new timber, sistered joists and steel supports to weather the elements.
The county thanked all attendees, the Lowery family, the Michael family, and the Tecumseh Land Trust for their help and support of the project.
In the aforementioned 'controvery' article, the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge was compared to the infamous Bridge To Nowhere in Alaska. We couldn't disagree more. This bridge connects more than the two side of Massie Creek, it connects us and future generations with those that came before. More than any preserved building or architectural styling, the Stevenson Road Covered Bridge is a relic that you can touch, walk, feel and reminisce upon.
Enjoy it and the Engle Mill Covered Bridge. They're great locations for a walk, a history lesson, a photo shoot, or whatever you choose!
Read more in the Xenia Gazette.
Engle Mill Bridge Gallery
Ballard Road Bridge Gallery (Un-restored)
Cemetery Road Bridge (Un-restored)
Hyde Road Bridge (Built 2014)